from the big 12 podium, west virginia head coach bob huggins takes up questions

from the big 12 podium, west virginia head coach bob huggins takes up questions

west virginia basketball head coach bob huggins has no trouble observing rules and policies, even those for which he does not approve. however, what sets him off is confusion and ever-changing decisions which make planning difficult, even for the near future.

For example, there’s the chaos of college basketball scheduling, which has been in a state of flux due to the COVID-19 pandemic until last week, when at least some parameters were set. the season will now commence on november 25, with a limit of 27 games as wvu hopes for those who play in a multi-team event (mte).

in getting to that point, the annoyance for huggins comes more with the process, and now the insane scramble to change schedules.

“Everybody knew we were going to play,” Huggins said, noting that another year without the NCAA Tournament would, in his view, mean the end of that organization.  “One of the problems is the layer of committees. They are all trying to do the right thing, but you have three levels of them to get through to get anything done.”

Now that there is at least some structure in place, Huggins and WVU director of basketball operations Josh Eilert are trying to get the Mountaineers’ non-conference slate in place — an effort that has multiple roadblocks.

“Josh and I are the ones handling this, and we are keeping our administration informed, with the whats and whys of what we are doing. But it’s very difficult. Every league has been asked to save windows of dates where they can fit in some games, and they don’t line up. but there are five conferences with those openings and it’s been very difficult to try and work out how to get (non-conference) games match up.

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wvu wants its non-conference game to happen with pitt, but an arrangement of the dates remains troublesome. The Purdue game will likely be played at the Mohegan Sun Casino, Huggins confirmed, but the former Battle 4 Atlantis event, which was scheduled to include Creighton, Duke, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Utah, Wichita State and Memphis along with WVU, could be down another team.  in addition to duke, the seven teams were tentatively expected to compete in an mte in south dakota, but huggins said another team may be going in a different direction now, but in the scheduling chaos it is as unclear as anything else.

“We just don’t know,” he said of the number of teams fully committed. “Everyone is trying to get their own schedules done, and with that it’s all uncertain. It’s the same for the women’s teams. We’ve had four different start dates (to the season) but at least now we have one.”

WVU’s games as part of the Big 12’s scheduling partnership with the SEC and Big East are also expected to be played, although those dates are also in question.

however, also with the start of the season comes a dilemma for huggins and other coaches. with many schools scheduled for an mte over the thanksgiving weekend, with no requirement to play a preseason scrimmage or broadcast, many squads will leap straight into some very tough action. Even without Duke, WVU’s MTE might well be the toughest in the nation.

“Why throw us into that? It makes no sense to me,” said Huggins. “Playing three straight days to start off, I don’t understand that. And it’s not just us. It’s a lot of teams.”

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One place Huggins isn’t pushing back is in the area of COVID-19 testing. Just as with any other medical decisions, he’s leaving all of that up to the professionals.

“That’s really above my pay grade.  we are always pursuing everything laid out by the mixture of all our doctors, by a.j’s shane (lyons). monseau (wvu sports medical director).  we do whatever they order us to do. We get a note on when guys are supposed to be tested, and we send them over and then wait for the results.”

jordan mccabe (5) wraps an entrance pass around david sloan's kansas state's (4)

West Virginia guard Jordan McCabe (5) wraps an entry pass around Kansas State’s David Sloan (4)

“I had an extended session with everyone when we all got back, and talked about the importance of following all the rules. We do mention it daily now, but they have all been very good, so I’m not beating them with it.  what’s the point of lecturing them when all was right then?”

Huggins hasn’t singled out particular leaders on the team, but is confident the message of good decisions is being circulated.

“All the guys have a roommate. They know it’s up to them. We have guys that talk to their teammates, and I think it’s more dynamic when [they take that on themselves] than if we appointed them. the guys are there for each other and they know what to do.

“The team that wins the Big 12, in my opinion, is going to be the team that has the fewest guys missing,” he summed up. “The same with the conference tournament. It’s on their self-discipline.”